Anchorage birder wins 5th Cape Nome Marathon
Anchorage visitor Cole Talbot came for a weekend trip to Nome to visit friends and do some birding. While he was at it, he also notched his first ever marathon finish and emerged victorious, too.
Talbot won the fifth Cape Nome full marathon in a time of three hours, one minute and 45 seconds. Cloudy skies and a mean temperature of 52°F with occasional mist and a slight ocean breeze made conditions near perfect for the three full marathon runners, 13 half-marathoners and eight bike participants.
The full marathon and bike portion of the race began on Saturday at East End Park at 10:30 a.m.. The course followed the Nome-Council Highway until mile 13.1 just east of the Cape Nome rock quarry. There, the half-marathoners started their portion of the run at noon and joined the marathoners and bikers on the way back to Nome’s East End Park to the finish line.
A few minutes after the half-marathoners started, marathon front runner Cole Talbot reached the mid-way checkpoint and took just enough of a break to drink some water and load up on some runner’s gel. Off he went to catch up with the half-marathoners. For most of the way back, Talbot ran in a tight race with eventual half-marathon winner Aaron Rose, with Nils Hahn following within a mile’s reach.
Marathon runners Tyler Johnson and Riley Bennett-Vockner, finished second and third, respectively. Johnson clocked a time of four hours, nine minutes and 32 seconds; Bennett-Vockner finished as first (and only) woman in a time of four hours, 40 minutes and 13 seconds.
The first biker to cross the finish line was Jackie Hrabok-Leppärjärvi, followed by Deb Trowbridge and siblings Hudson and Tate Coggins, who tied for third place.
A group of 12-year old bikers stayed in between the three front runners and the rest of the runners. Friends and relatives cheered on the runners on the way. A squad of toddler-aged cheerleaders joined runner Misty Reader for a short segment of the run.
Talbot, smiling big after his first completion of a full 26.2-mile marathon, said that he and his friend decided to come birding for the weekend and to visit with friends Kate Persons and Pete Robb. “As we drove to the airport I was listening to APRN and they’re interviewing Crystal about her running career and she said that the marathon happens every third week in July and I thought ‘Oh, that’s this weekend, so maybe we should run a marathon tomorrow’. So, we came up to do birding and we got to do a marathon while we were up here,” Talbot said.
Talbot is a runner and a cross-country ski coach at Service High School, but has not run a marathon before. “I have done a lot of ski races, but not so many running races, so this seemed like a good way to start out and it was perfect temperature, I think in most marathons, I’d die of heat,” Talbot said. And he got to do some birding on the way, too.
“Oh, it was such a wonderful adventure,” he said. “Within the first mile I got attacked by a mew gull and pooped on, and then I got bombed by whimbrels and short-eared owls and by jaegers and so there were all these birds. I came up here for birding so I was actually really enjoying the birding as I went along.” A whimbrel near Farley’s Camp loudly defended her nearby nest and offered a closeup look as the bird did all it could to distract the human bikers and racers from getting anywhere near its young.
Talbot also praised the course for its scenic and spectacular views and the pleasant ocean breeze. Asked if he considers coming back next year, Talbot said, “Oh, I think so, it’s a real good time of the year to come up here and it's a fun course and a really good atmosphere, so, yeah.”
Race organizer Crystal Tobuk, an avid marathon runner herself, stayed on the start and finish line to clock the times. Nursing a cold, she said, this year saw the most bikers in the race’s five-year history. “I think it’s real cool that youth want to participate,” Tobuk said of the bunch of teenagers and 12-year olds who participated in the bike race. “It’s perfect,” said Tobuk. “It’s not too hot, not too cold, misting on and off, and it’s always fun to hear the stories of the first time runners who are in town for some reason and they just join in.”
Unfortunately, some car and truck drivers also using the Nome-Council highway gravel road did not consider slowing down as they passed the runners and bikers, dusting the race participants with clouds of dirt. However, this didn’t stop them and the last runner to come off the course was Ginna Piscoya, finishing the half-marathon in four hours, 57 minutes and 49 seconds.